‘No, I believe not,’ said Sir Edward; ’we are rather too large a number without the girls, who really form quite a troop by themselves.’
‘I like to see your daughter and Miss Woodbourne together,’ said Mrs. Bouverie; ‘I am sure they must be great allies.’
‘Yes,’ said Sir Edward, ’there is a tolerably strong cousinly friendship between them: Anne has a wholesome feeling of inferiority, which makes her rather proud of her cousin’s preference.’
‘Do you not think Miss Woodbourne very like her mother?’ said Mrs. Bouverie. ‘I knew her immediately by the resemblance.’
‘Very—very like her, a little darker certainly,’ said Sir Edward, ’but she reminds me of her constantly—there—that smile is my sister’s exactly.’
Elizabeth had just then re-entered the room, and was assuring her mamma that Winifred had been as playful as ever all the remainder of the evening, and was now fast asleep in bed.
‘I am only afraid she is too fragile and delicate a creature,’ said Mrs. Bouverie; ‘is her health strong?’
‘Strong? no, not very,’ said Sir Edward, ’she requires care, but there is nothing much amiss with her; I know most people about here are in the habit of lamenting over her as in a most dangerous state; but I believe the fact is, that Mrs. Woodbourne is a nervous anxious person, and frightens herself more than there is any occasion for.’
’Then I hope she generally looks less delicate than she does to-night,’ said Mrs. Bouverie.
‘Oh! she may well look over-worked to-night,’ said Sir Edward; ’she has a spirit in her which would not let her rest on such a day as this.—Come here, Miss Lizzie,’ said he, beckoning to her, ’I want you to account for those two red spots upon your cheeks. Do you think they ought to be there ?’
‘Yes, if they come in a good cause, Uncle,’ said Elizabeth.
‘Do you mean, then, to wear them any longer than necessary?’ said Sir Edward; ‘pray have you sat still for five minutes together to-day?’
‘Yes, while I was at tea,’ said Elizabeth.
‘And why are not you in bed and asleep at this moment?’ asked her uncle.
‘That is the very question Mamma has been asking,’ said Elizabeth; ’and I have been promising to depart, as soon as I can make my escape; so good night, Uncle Edward—good night,’ said she, giving her hand to her uncle and to Mrs. Bouverie with almost equal cordiality.
‘Good night, Lizzie, get you gone,’ said Sir Edward; ’and if you can carry off my girl with you, I shall be all the better pleased.’
Elizabeth succeeded in touching Anne’s arm; and the two cousins flitted away together, and soon forgot the various delights and annoyances of the day in sleep.
The next morning was gloomy and rainy, as Elizabeth informed Anne at about seven o’clock; ‘and I am not sorry for it,’ said she, ’for I want to have you all to myself at home, so we will turn the incubi over to Kate and Helen, and be comfortable together.’